Those that follow Go Cotswolds on Twitter or Instagram will have picked up on the fact that I spent yesterday evening in London attending the Future of Tourism 2014 event at the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening enhanced by the fact that I got to walk the two miles from Marylebone Station on a glorious Spring evening through Hyde Park.
It’s an event organised by G Adventures – an adventure travel company (formerly known as GAP Adventures) that organises trips for over 100,000 customers a year to 100 different countries.
More importantly they’re champions of sustainable tourism and their founder – Bruce Poon Tip (BPT) – was the main speaker last night.
He talked for over an hour about his travel philosophies and what G Adventures have done to make travel more sustainable and what they are doing in the future.
It was very interesting and I was impressed with the work that G Adventures are doing. He’s obviously very passionate about travel, the world and the impact of travellers on foreign soil.
Following BPT’s hour – where he was also plugging his book Looptail – there was a forum on the future of tourism between BPT, Tony Wheeler (co-founder of The Lonely Planet), Julia Bradbury (TV Presenter), Pippa Jacks (Editor Travel Trade Gazette) and chaired by Lyn Hughes (Editor-in-Chief, Wanderlust magazine).
They talked all things tourism touching on their own travel experiences and their opinions on the ethical, political, sustainability and safety issues behind travelling.
One topic that struck a chord was with regards to travelling to countries deemed to be politically broken or have questionable human rights records.
The resounding answer was yes, if you want to, you should go – something with which I was in total agreement with.
They emphasised that it’s never as bad as the media make out and the locals – who are largely unaffected by the political unrest we hear about – are very grateful for the continued tourist trade.
This was something we discovered at source last year when we visited Zimbabwe. We had no issues that couldn’t have been avoided and were given such a warm welcome everywhere we visited. The locals were very grateful of our custom as, despite the country stabilising somewhat since the widely reported political unrest of 2008/09, visitor numbers are still very low.
A really eye opening and thought provoking evening that I was glad I had the opportunity to attend. It also made me think of what I can do with Go Cotswolds to ensure that tourism is sustainable in my local area.